Minimum pricing for home care: a UKHCA report

Following an investigation into the quality and pricing of home care and pay for workers, the UK Home Care Association has compiled a report recommending a minimum price for home care.

The quality of home-based care services has come under scrutiny recently, against a backdrop of public sector spending constraints which have impacted on the sector. There has been increasing concern that a proportion of the workforce may not always receive the National Minimum Wage, and that the quality of home care services may not always be adequate for the people who use them.

A recent investigation by the BBC found that most councils in England are paying less than the industry recommended minimum for personal home care. Freedom of Information (FOI) data sourced by the BBC from over 100 councils in England, suggests that although the recommended minimum hourly rate for home care is £15.19, the average paid by councils was £12.26. This means that the minimum rate was met in just four out of 101 cases.

The UK Home Care Association (UKHCA) suggests that home care must:

• Provide a minimum wage for care workers – currently £6.31 for workers over the age of 21

• Cover the cost of travel – that is the time and mileage the care worker racks up doing their job

• Make sure that covering the cost of national insurance contributions, holiday pay, training and pensions is also taken into account

• Take into account the costs the agency accrues. These can add another 30% to the cost, according to UKHCA

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It believes that its Costing Model, which was developed with the assistance of finance directors from UKHCA member organisations in line with advice supplied by

providers, calculates a fair and sustainable price for care in an open and transparent format.

However, some argue whether the recommended minimum rate may be too high. Sandie Keene, president of the Association of Directors of Social Services suggests that people should use the UKHCA model and determine a reasonable price for care by working with providers and considering local conditions. She goes on to say that proposing a set amount for the price of home care is somewhat difficult because care costs differ depending on where people live in the country.

Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb adds that local authorities must consider how they can do things differently to deliver better outcomes and quality care for people who need it. There are plenty of good examples of commissioning by councils, but this should be the reality everywhere.

UKHCA is urging councils to work with providers to ensure a sustainable care sector is maintained.

Darren Housden, UK Business Development Manager, Comfort Keepers UK, said about the report:

“This report makes for an interesting and informative read, and touches upon issues which are crucial to the home care industry. The UKHCA raises some relevant questions about the way the home care industry operates and is managed, and its Costing Model provides a sensible broad brush approach to pricing for home care. It is important that providers across the industry work together with Government and the regulatory sector to ensure that the best home care is provided and at the right price.”

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You can read the full report including UKHCA’s Costing Model here.